Tuesday, October 28, 2008

They didn't get away with it

I won't use this page to offer support for Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand, as what they did to Andrew Sachs would be pretty hard to defend. It does strike me, however, that part of the hullabaloo stems from the sacred status of Fawlty Towers in British popular culture. Undeniably the funniest sitcom ever written on this side of the Atlantic, its leading characters - Basil, Sybil and Manuel - have an almost mythical status. Is the problem really that Ross and Brand have made crude phone calls and said stupid and nasty things? Or is it that they've said them to the bloke who happened to play Manuel in Fawlty Towers?

I reckon a good proportion of the complainants have a picture of Manuel in their minds rather than Andrew Sachs. That poor little man. He got enough stick from Basil thirty years ago, didn't he? Doesn't even speak the Queen's English. And now he's being hounded again. Leave him alone. He's from Barcelona.

Before anyone gets carried away, I am NOT saying that the behaviour was appropriate or should have been broadcast. Just that if they'd done the same thing to someone else, maybe there wouldn't have been quite the same public outcry.

One more thought. I've read Russell Brand's autobiography and it opens in a sex addiction clinic on the west coast of America. The guy has a reputation for a lifestyle that is the absolute antithesis of old-style Radio 2. No one can say that the BBC weren't warned. Jonathan Ross is also known for humour which a Corporation executive would probably describe as being "near the knuckle". You gets what you pays for in this life. The fact you pays rather a lot for it doesn't mean you don't know what you're buying.

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